The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Directed by: W.D. Richter
Written by: Earl Mac Rauch
Starring: Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Lewis Smith, Peter Weller, Vincent Schiavelli
THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984)
Directed by W.D. Richter
On Blu-Ray now from Arrow Video
Rockstar, surgeon, samurai, comic book hero and scientist all rolled into one, Buckaroo Banzai, born from a Japanese father and Australian mother, successfully drives through solid matter after developing a device called the oscillation overthruster. Hearing of Buckaroo’s accomplishments, crazed Dr Emilio Lizardo breaks out of his mental facility and plans to steal the overthruster after a failed experiment of his own in 1938 saw him stuck halfway through the 8th dimension, allowing John Whorfin, a Red Lectoid alien, to take over his body. With his fellow Red Lectoids on Earth disguised as workers of Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, Whorfin plans to re-enter the 8th dimension to free the rest of the imprisoned Red Lectoids who were trapped there by enemies the Black Lectoids. Knowing of Wharfin’s plan, the Black Lectoids send one of their own down to Earth to help Buckaroo and his team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, to kill the Red Lectoids before they have a chance to enter the 8th dimension otherwise they’ll initiate World War III between the Americans and Russians to ensure Wharfin andhis minions do not succeed.
Crazy adventure comedy flick THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION throws the viewer slap bang into the middle of its orchestrated madness led by Peter Weller as titular hero, Buckaroo Banzai. There’s nothing this man can’t do. After conducting brain surgery on a patient with help from fellow surgeon, New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), he’s straight into the driving seat of the high speed vehicle he intends to drive through solid matter with. After his successful science experiment, he’s then seen fronting a rock band with his Hong Kong Cavaliers, producing guitar riffs that send the audience wild at the local bar. If it seems as though my descriptions of what happens on screen flit from one to the other, then you’ll get a feeling as to what watching Buckaroo Banzai is like. It’s a film that moves to its own peculiar beat and there’s nothing straightforward about the movie at all. It’s quirky and daft yet the amazing cast involved seem to be having a whale of a time performing in it.
Whilst it’s not my particular type of film with its oddball structure and on-screen craziness a bit too zany to my tastes, there is something wildly fun and charming about the movie. The core storyline is easy to understand: the Red Lectoids are out to unleash their imprisoned comrades and destroy everything in their way, whilst the aliens at threat (Black Lectoids) and Buckaroo Banzai must prevent this from happening at all costs. The way they go about it though feels slapdash and no sooner have we got into a scene that it switches and is onto something else. Like a kid full of sugar, Buckaroo Banzai doesn’t like staying in one place too long and would rather be running around, doing something without caring to establish or explain itself in full detail.
John Lithgow stars as eccentric Italian doctor Emilio Lizardo who’s failed experiments cause him to be manipulated by alien John Wharfin who inhabits his body, turning Lizardo into an even crazier, power-driven leader of his people. Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya and Vincent Schiavelli are his cronies, set to his dirty work whilst Wharfin puts together his master plan. Lewis Smith and Clancy Brown star as two of Buckaroo’s closest friends, Perfect Tommy and Rawhide, who make up part of the Hong Kong Cavaliers. Not only are they musicians, but also help Buckaroo with his science and technology developments too. They add two new recruits in the form of Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), a long lost twin sister of Buckaroo’s late wife, and surgeon New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum). Jeff Goldblum kind of steals the show for me as a waffling cowboy who’s jabbering speeches only he seems to understand, though each character has their own particular charm.
Despite my thoughts and feelings on this peculiar title, Arrow Video have done themselves proud with this high definition transfer. As with most of their releases, the disc comes jam packed with special features including new interviews with Peter Weller and John Lithgow where they discuss their respective characters and the film, a Q&A with Weller and Lithgow hosted by Buckaroo Banzai fan Kevin Smith, along with other interviews, audio commentary, Buckaroo Banzai Declassified featurette, trailer and image gallery. The release also features a reversible sleeve with original and new artwork by Matthew Griffin and a collector’s booklet with brand new writing by critic James Oliver.
If zany adventure comedies are your thing, then THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION just might entertain you, even if its a little too alien for my tastes.